The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has responded to the outrage over his Harvard University programme photos he posted on social media, with an apology.
Public outrage had greeted the photos posted by the Speaker on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, announcing his participation in the elite American University leadership programme, especially as it came more that four months after Nigerian public universities were shut down over an unresolved industrial dispute between the government and the by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Many had questioned the timing, propriety and sensitivity of such action by the number four public official in Nigeria.
Sequel to the reaction, Speaker Gbajabiamila has admitted his error of judgement by apologising to the Nigerian public whose sensibility was offended, adding that it wasn’t his intention to cause disaffection.
In a statement on Wednesday, July 27, he wrote: “Yesterday I posted a picture of myself at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, undergoing a course. That post was not sensitive to the present feelings of fellow citizens, especially parents and students who are presently bearing the brunt of the ongoing closure of public universities owing to the unresolved issues between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“I apologise for the post at this time, and I hope you will understand that it was not my intention to cause disaffection.
“As Speaker of the House of Representatives, I have made multiple interventions within the powers of the legislature to avert the ongoing strike. I had direct engagements with the leadership of ASUU and relevant government agencies. The House of Representatives is still keenly involved in seeking a resolution to the issues so our students can return to school. We all await the outcome of the 2-week ultimatum given for the conclusion of negotiations with ASUU.
“I have long been a champion of public education in Nigeria, and I have consistently advocated programmes, policies and investments to improve the quality of public education in the country. In my constituency and beyond,
“I have attracted a new international students hostel in UNILAG, access to internet WiFi in ALL public tertiary institutions in Lagos State; provision of modern ICT centres in 24 secondary schools across the state, provision of scholarships and grants to indigent students in selected tertiary institutions, provision of laptops to ALL secondary school teachers in my constituency and hundreds of students, facilitated the renovation of over 15 public schools in Lagos, facilitated the ongoing construction of the Open University Campus and JAMB CBT Centre in my constituency, facilitated the ongoing construction of School Auditoriums in both Lagos State University and School of Legal Studies, Katsina; facilitated the construction of a public library in Ondo; facilitated the ongoing construction of an emergency care centre for the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital amongst other numerous interventions.